March 24th, 2008
05:20 PM ET
15 years ago

Clinton campaign blasts Obama supporter's 'blue dress' comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Obama and Clinton camps have been trading increasingly negative rhetoric."]
(CNN) - Senior Clinton advisers blasted Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign Monday after a major Obama supporter in Iowa compared Bill Clinton unfavorably to Joe McCarthy and referenced the blue dress at the heart of the impeachment scandal.

"When Joe McCarthy questioned others' patriotism, McCarthy (1) actually believed, at least aparently, the questions were genuine, and (2) he did so in order to build up, not tear down, his own party, the GOP,” wrote Gordon Fischer, a former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, wrote on his blog. “Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping — instead he is hurting — his own party. B. Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress."

Fischer was referring to President Clinton’s comments over the weekend that a race between John McCain and Hillary Clinton would be a contest between two people who love their country, which some Obama supporters - including former Air Force Gen. Tony McPeak – have interpreted as an attack on Obama's patriotism.

Fischer later removed the post from his blog, replacing it with an apology. ”I sincerely apologize for a tasteless and gratituous comment I made here about President Clinton,” he wrote. “It was unnecessary and wrong. I have since deleted the comment, and again apologize for making it. It will not happen again. I hope my readers will accept my apology and we can move on to the very important issues facing our state and country. Thank you.” Fischer endorsed Obama last fall.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton aides said Fischer’s decision to attack the New York senator in “starkly personal terms” reflected “gutter tactics that (the Obama) campaign is now deploying.”

“It would appear to be that their high-minded rhetoric seems to be falling short,” said spokesman Phil Singer.

"This is now the Obama campaign’s primary message to the American people," said spokesman Howard Wolfson. "Not to build him up, but to tear Senator Clinton down."

He also dismissed Fischer’s apology. "That's all well and good… In my opinion the remarks of Gordon Fisher are very much in keeping with the campaign Senator Obama is running. So I don't know why he would apologize."

They also distanced themselves from remarks this weekend made by Clinton supporter James Carville, who seemed to compare Bill Richardson’s decision to endorse Barack Obama to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

"I'm not an expert on the topic to give a good answer," said Wolfson, who added that he would not have used those words and that in his view Richardson had served his country honorably.

UPDATE: Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton responded: "As Senator Obama has said repeatedly, comments like this have no place in our political dialogue and he strongly rejects them," said Burton.

In an e-mail to CNN's Richard Greene, Gordon Fischer said of his decision to remove the post: "I took it down becuase it was wrong. And stupid."

UPDATE at 3:29 p.m.: “I was quoted accurately and in context, and I was glad to give the quote and I was glad I gave it,” Carville told the New York Times, after Wolfson told reporters that he would have offered his apologies if he had made the remark. “I’m not apologizing, I’m not resigning, I’m not doing anything.”

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

soundoff (262 Responses)
  1. RobinLC

    Is this the change we can believe in. Sleeze, sleeze, and more sleeze.
    Yes we can. How very typical, Obama.

    March 24, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. sayno2clinton, cambridge, MA

    So why doesn't Wolfson REJECT and DENOUNCE James Carville?

    March 24, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  3. Enrique

    Fischer acknowledged his mistake and apologized for it. Wolfson and Hillary are delusional if they think we're going to feel any sympathy for them. They're the experts at mudslinging.

    March 24, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Chuck in Oregon

    Belly up Mr Wolfson. Stop firing and I am sure Obama's camp will respond like wise.

    March 24, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. memoryaid

    I thought it's Hillary, not Bill that's running. Half the time that Bill's troubled past is referenced, we're told that we shouldn't project her faults on Hillary.

    The other half of the time, they take great offense. What's wrong with saying that he's marred his legacy? It's true for most of us. The jab was unnecessary, but again, it wasn't directed at her at all.

    I feel they should at least be consistent. As with the accomplishments during the Clinton years, Hillary wants to have it both ways.

    March 24, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Jim, American in Paris

    Obama's campaign is not only in the gutter, it's on the rocks!

    Hillary is the only choice now. Go Hillary!

    March 24, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Mike

    I suppose that Obama will say that he knew nothing of this kind of rant from his people either.

    Then later Obama will say he did hear his people say these rants in private but disagrees with them and they dont reflect his views of Clinton.

    He will then find another family member to throw to the media wolves and say this family member said a lot of bad things about the Clintons too and it always made him cringe.

    March 24, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Andrea

    Are you kidding me? The Clintons, who dismiss anything good from the Obama camp but embrace all that can be perceived as negative, are really arrogant. I don't agree with either camp engaging in such juvenille behavior, but if this is not the pot calling the kettle black ( no pun intended) I don't what is. If this elementary behavior continues the party will be broken beyond repair. I would suggest that Howard Dean take control and place both candidates in a time out!!! I am an Obama supporter, and lifelong Democrat that will absolutely not vote for Hillary Clinton.....EVER !!! She started this mess and now wants to play the victim. I say get a life.

    March 24, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Banko

    How can we let a some who survived impeachment by barely 4 votes, get close to the Whitehouse again? Wake up America. The Clinton's are corrupt and dishonest. Once a cheater, always a cheater.

    March 24, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Peg

    Looks like the Clinton campaign can't take it as good as they give it out! Funny, eh? When it's their turn to be defensive, they scream and yell, but it's OK for them to do it and believe me they have, for a very long time.

    March 24, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Lesley

    Where's the "change" in these comments? Obama better beg his supporters to shut their mouths, or his general election campaign run on "hope" and "judgment" won't be able to save him.

    Words can't change America as much as action can. And by action, I mean choosing your mentor/spiritual advisor wisely. And by action, I mean choosing NOT to subject your impressional children to a Church filled with hate and remorse.

    Be smart - vote Hillary '08

    CNN, I'm begging you to post even just ONE of my comments. I post every day, and every day my voice is silenced!

    March 24, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Equal Treatment Supporter in MD


    It's about Time this came up. If the tables were turned, the Clinton campaign would have brought this up a LONG time ago.

    And furthermore, if Hillary cannot control her own marriage, how can she control the country?

    March 24, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. vjh

    Enough is enough ! Will both campaigns please stop this rhetoric. Everyone sounds like a bunch of high schoolers. Grow up ! Is this the kind of tactics that will be brought to the GE ?

    March 24, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. K

    Of course the Obama campaign is on the defensive after a less than stellar couple of weeks. He's ready to show everyone how he's the "candidate for change"...or not...

    March 24, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. jared

    So when an Obama supporter says something inflammatory about the clintons, it's Obama's fault and should be reflected upon his campain, but when a Clinton supporter does the same, it's not?

    Seriously, it seems the Clinton campaign is just grabbing whatever soundbites they can, to keep focus off of anything bad their supporters have to say.

    Bitter taste left after Richardson endorsed Obama?

    March 24, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Seam

    Remember Obamanicans. you need us fellow democrats to win the election. If you keep on doing this and you are running under the platform of "Change", i might vote for experience "mcain" as your idea of change is just words

    March 24, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Nobillary

    paraphrasing the words of Hillary Clinton when talking about Ferraro,

    "I do not agree with that," she said. "It is regrettable that any of our supporters on both sides, because we've both had that experience, say things that kind of veer off into the personal. We ought to keep this on the issues."

    -Hillary Clinton

    Hum, how quickly she forgets.

    Didnt Hillary say, "she said it, i didnt" i guess Obama dont get these kind of political benefits.

    March 24, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Kris from AZ

    Billary has been using gutter tactics all along. Now she feels insulted over Obama standing up for himself. Shame on Billary. Billary is no vicim. Who ever wins this. UNITY so Dems can beat the Republicans. Obama 2008!

    March 24, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. People Of Color See It For What It Is

    Oh, how will the US be viewed to the opposing countries when we have HRC crying and lying on national television. Will she be accepted as a Leader to them or will the US appear weak? I am asking due to not enough change in these countries has taken place when most of their women are yet oppressed.

    March 24, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Steph

    GO! JOHN McCAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 24, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Doug

    Funny how the Clinton campaign has been consistantly firing shots at Obama from the start, yet as soon as Obama's camp starts firing back, the Clintons and the media start howling about "unfair personal attacks" and "negative campaigning" and "politics as usual".

    Hillary's camp needs to get a dictionary and look up "Hipocrisy".

    March 24, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. Lill

    Please let us stop the negative campaign and focus on the issues. Keep this up and McCain will win the election! Focus on being humble and not on humiliations.

    March 24, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  23. Sarah L, Fayetteville, AR

    I wish people would get it through their heads that these candidates do not control what every supporter says. Obama sanctioned this statement no more than Hillary sanctioned Geraldine Ferrarro's statements. This whole thing is ridiculous.

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Southern White Male

    Is this a joke? Clinton is trying to wield umbrage as a weapon against Obama. The problem: she's not as good at it as he is!

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Sam Rose

    So sad all this bickering back and forth–
    Dems need to unite behind the candidate that the people choose-whoever that might be on June 3–

    Dems 08

    March 24, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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